Kinnock quizzes Home Secretary over Bibby Stockholm delays
The UK Government has been urged to reveal the true cost of the barge which it wants to use to house migrants off the Dorset coast.
Aberavon MP Stephen Kinnock, the Shadow Minister for Immigration, also asked when people might be returned to the vessel following a Legionella scare.
Asylum seekers were placed on board the Bibby Stockholm on 4 August but were removed five days later after tests revealed Legionella – the bacteria which can cause the potentially fatal Legionnaires’ disease.
Ministers planned to accommodate 500 migrants on board the giant vessel, which is berthed on the most southerly point of Dorset’s Jurassic Coast.
Mr Kinnock told MPs: “It has been more than a month since all 39 asylum seekers were hauled off the 500 capacity Bibby Stockholm due to the detection of Legionella, but the Home Secretary is yet to give a date on when the barge will actually be ready for use.
“We still don’t know why the Home Secretary chose not to wait for the Legionella results before ploughing ahead, and why her minister was so slow to act once the results came in.
“And we are still yet to hear a denial from the Home Secretary that this is one of the most lethal strains of the bacteria as reported in the media. Will she today set out her responses to these questions?
“And will she confirm the exact cost of the barge – half a million pounds per month to house zero asylum seekers on this floating symbol of failure feels utterly extortionate.
“And why, why, why is it that the only boat this Government has managed to stop is its own?”
In response to Mr Kinnock, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: “We have assessed the barge and it has been under constant scrutiny and we will be re-embarking people back onto the barge as soon as practical, as soon as possible.”
Referencing Labour’s own migration policy, she added: “But what is clear is that he simply has no answers on how to solve the broader problem. The truth is that Labour’s policy hasn’t survived contact with reality. It has been denounced by the EU, their shadow ministers are making it as they go along, and the leader has had to backtrack and it has not even been a week.
“Only we have a plan based on reality, based on deterrence, based on delivery and it will stop the boats.”
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